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A primer for whistleblowers –
How to send anonymous email...

Copyright ©1998 Lee Adams. All rights reserved.
NOTE – Spy & CounterSpy does not endorse, condone, or encourage any illegal act. The material in this article is presented for information, research, entertainment, and education purposes only. The words "you" and "your" are used in this article for ease of readability only.
     Imagine, for a moment, this hypothetical situation. You possess inside information. You feel the public has a right to know. You are a moral individual and you have a strong sense of social responsibility. But you don't want the goons kicking in your door an hour before dawn. Your problem is – you don't know how to leak the information without getting caught. You don't know how to communicate anonymously.
What you'll learn here...
     This article teaches you how to use the Internet to send untraceable email. The recipient of the message won't be able to trace you. The Internet provider won't be able to trace you. The local phone company won't be able to trace you. The FBI won't be able to trace you.
     Simply stated, if you need tradecraft that will give you unbreakable anonymity, you are reading the right article.


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Step 1:  Get online anonymously...
     First, go to a cybercafe. This is a retail store that offers public access to the Internet. You'll find them in almost every US city.
     The cybercafe you select should ideally be in another city. At a minimum, it should be on the other side of town. Don't use the cybercafe just around the corner from where you work.
     Some cybercafes charge by the hour, others by the minute. Some are free, located in public libraries and colleges. But otherwise they all work the same way. You sit down at a computer workstation and use it as if it were your own.
     It's already preloaded with nifty software, including the most popular browsers. And it's connected to the Internet. You can surf the 'net just like you do at your office or home. Except when you're using a cybercafe you're anonymous.
     BACKGROUND – You can't use your own computer and expect anonymity. The authorities can trace email packets back to your SMTP and POP accounts at your Internet service provider. From there the telephone line or coaxial cable can be traced to your physical location.
     With today's digital infrastructure, the trace is instantaneous. There's no hurry, though. Billing records allow the authorities to trace you months later if need be. So-called remailers, anonymizers, and mixmasters are helpful, of course – they'll slow down the authorities' search by about 24 hours – that's about how long as it takes to serve a warrant or writ on an uncooperative Webmaster.

Protect your identity...
     Whether you pay the cybercafe proprietor in advance or afterwards is not important. But you must make a point to pay using cash. And don't show any ID. If the proprietor insists on credit card payment or personal ID, go elsewhere.
     When trained members of a resistance movement use cybercafes, they alter their silhouette by wearing different clothing and footwear, changing their hairstyle, adding (or deleting) eyeglasses, and so on. Simply wearing a hat can significantly reduce the ability of a witness to describe your appearance to an investigator. It can also confound an in-store video surveillance camera.

Intelligence agencies
refer to this type
of arrangement as
a cover address.



Step 2:  Set up an email account...
     As soon as you are online at the cybercafe, you can set up an anonymous free email account. Here are a few providers to choose from –,,,,, and
     Other providers are available. Use a search engine to find one that meets your preferences.
Getting registered...
     As you complete the online registration form, keep in mind that the provider has no way of verifying the information you provide. For all he knows, you might be using a fictitious name, address, postal code, and telephone number. Not all providers even bother to request this information. Some ask for only a name and a city.
     Remember that the name you provide will appear on the header of outgoing email messages.
     If the registration form insists on an email forwarding address or a social security number, you should look elsewhere for a provider.
     After submitting the registration form, you'll usually have an active email account within a few moments. You can now send and receive email anonymously.
     Intelligence agencies refer to this type of arrangement as a cover address. In particular, a cover address refers to a postal address, email address, or courier address that is not linked to the identity of the person using the address.

Step 3:  Send your message...
     If you have a short message to transmit, simply type it into the editing window of the email editor and you can send your email immediately.
If you have a longer message...
     If you have a lengthy message or an encrypted message to transmit, you should prepare it in advance and bring it with you on diskette as a text file or html file. Most cybercafes allow you to use diskettes with their computers. Simply insert the diskette as you would at your office or at home.
     SECURITY CAUTION – If your cybercafe insists on inserting the disk at a central location and then transmitting the data by LAN (local area network) to your computer workstation, you'll probably want to use encrypted text. Some cybercafes do this because they're concerned about viruses being introduced into their systems.
     You can use Windows Wordpad to load your file, select the text, and copy it to the Windows clipboard. Then you'll be able to use Shift+Ins to paste your text into the editing window of the email editor.
     You can also send your file as an email attachment direct from your diskette. Different email account providers have different policies concerning attachments. Some allow them. Some don't.
Limiting your exposure...
     Under most circumstances, you'll be able to get online, set up an anonmous free email account, compose and send your message, and log off in fewer than 3 minutes. There's no real need to rush, however. You don't want to attract attention to yourself.

Wipe the keyboard.
Remove your diskette.
Pay the cybercafe.
Walk out the door.
And don't go back.

Step 4:  Cover your tracks...
     Take a damp cloth. Wipe off the keyboard. Wipe off the mouse. Wipe off anything else you've touched. Don't leave any fingerprints.
     Make certain you've removed your diskette from the disk drive. If you have a DOS-based file-wipe utility, you can use it to delete the browser's cache files, history files, and bookmark file. (This step does nothing to hinder the authorities, however, who can trace the source of the email message to this particular computer if they open an investigation. Deleting the browser's files merely obstructs nosy busybodies – other cybercafe customers and staff.)
     Go to the counter and pay the proprietor. With cash.
Disappear forever...
     Walk out the door. Don't go back. Ever. And keep your secret to yourself. Don't tell anyone. Ever.
     BACKGROUND – Keeping quiet is important. Most people are caught because they can't resist the urge to brag – or because they feel a need to confide in someone. If you can't keep a secret, then you'll never be a good underground urban activist, freedom fighter, or guerrilla.
     Intelligence agencies, security services, resistance movements, and guerrilla groups have found that for some reason women seem better at keeping quiet about covert ops than men. So if you're a guy, you'll need to make an extra effort in this regard.

     Smile to yourself. Congratulations are in order. You've just executed a successful covert op.  ; )


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